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Column: Village bookstore gives locals a sense of community

by Tori Martinez - Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Mar 7th 2017 05:00 pm
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I can't quite say I have a favorite store on Main Street. The Village of Brockport has too many that I love and I'd almost feel guilty if I picked one. I can, however, say that Lift Bridge Book Shop was my first love and I don't think I'd have this column without it.

The first time I stepped into Lift Bridge was on a warm, spring Saturday, probably around this time last year. I had always wanted to explore Main Street and something seemed to draw me to Lift Bridge first. I didn't even have time to visit other stores after because I spent two hours there (I'm not exaggerating). It's not hard to do at all.

When you walk in, there's a wall to the right, with shelves full of coloring books and calendars lining it. In front of this section is a shelf filled with whatever new or interesting products the store has in stock. I was particularly drawn to this shelf at the time because almost everything on it was a Harry Potter product. On the same side, there are large bookcases of new non-fiction and on the left, shelves and cases full of new fiction. 

As you move further into the store, you see rows of young adult and adult books along with puzzles to the right, and on the left, rows of toys and children's books. Further into the store, you'll find even more toys and crafty things. I've already started making a mental list of the toys I will buy for my future children. 

The entire back wall is covered in board and card games from floor to ceiling. The games include some specific to the community, such as "Rocopoloy", the Rochester version of Monopoly. 

When I went in that one Saturday, I didn't know what to expect. Imagine my surprise when I turned my head to the left and saw a staircase across from the chess boards, going down into a basement. 

The downstairs is my favorite part of the store. There are two staircases that take you downstairs, one in the front right of the store by the calendars and one in the back left by the games. If you're coming from the back entrance, you'll see boxes of extremely cheap books, some as low as 25 and 50 cents. There's also a section for local authors. 

I'm pretty sure I saw a book by Anne Panning, one of The College at Brockport's English professors, down there one time. The downstairs is also where they keep all the art supplies and posters. I spent at least half an hour looking for Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory," which I did eventually find. If you need anything for your apartment or dorm, Lift Bridge will definitely have something. 

I wrote an article last semester about Lift Bridge's Independent Bookstore Day, and that's when I really fell in love with the store. I have a very special place in my heart for coffee shops and bookstores, so it was probably inevitable. After meeting one of the owners, I ended up liking the store more, which I didn't think was possible. 

Cody Steffen and John Bonczyk bought the store in 2015 when the original owners were selling it. Steffen lived in Brockport and worked at the store for a few years before moving to Maryland. When he heard the owners were retiring, he decided to move back and buy it with Bonczyk, who had also worked there. 

You might have heard of Lift Bridge if you're an English major or have attended a Writers Forum event. The English department plays host to the Writers Forum, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. Lift Bridge employees are often at Writers Forum readings to sell the books of the author featured that week. I think it's great that different departments in the college work with the small businesses in Brockport, especially Lift Bridge. It's the best way to keep a connection between the college and the village as well as continuing to support our local economy. 

Steffen told me the hardest thing about owning an independent bookstore is the competition of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. At Lift Bridge, for example, you can buy "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" for $10.99 or at Amazon for $5.43. I can understand why people would prefer to order a book from Amazon because it costs less than half of what it costs at Lift Bridge, but we have to remember that the extra $5 they get when you buy the book from them goes to pay employees who work there, it's part of the owners' salaries and the general expenses of running a business, like electric bills. 

Sometimes I'm broke and I have to go with the cheaper option, like buying books from Barnes and Noble, which makes me sad, but whenever I get the chance I shop at Lift Bridge. 

I actually did a lot of my Christmas shopping there (you should really consider it next December). Something about shopping at a small store like that makes you feel good about what you bought. 

If you have ever seen "You've Got Mail" with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, you will understand why the idea of an independent bookstore competing with big corporations makes me emotional. 

There's just something magical about independent bookstores and if we don't continue to support them, we might not have them anymore. 

If you have any free time within the next few weeks, you should stop by Lift Bridge and look around, even if you don't plan on buying anything. I'm sure after walking around for a bit you'll find something worth saving up for. 


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